Last weekend, Tara Reade — the former staffer for Joe Biden who alleges that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee sexually assaulted her when she worked in his Senate office in 1993 — was scheduled to appear on Fox News Sunday and CNN, but she canceled at the last minute. Reade told a New York Times reporter that she backed out over death threats to herself and her daughter; CNN’s Don Lemon said Reade told him she wanted to find paperwork to support her claim before sitting for an interview. But by Thursday, Reade had spoken to former Fox News and NBC News host Megyn Kelly about the allegations, which Biden has denied. That interview was released online late Friday:
Below is everything we learned.
Reade alleged Biden made a vulgar comment during the assault
Reade recounted the alleged assault as she had in other interviews, but added, for the first time, that Biden had also said “something vulgar.”
“And I pulled this way, away from his head, and so he was kissing my neck area,” Reade told Kelly. “And he whispered, did I want to go somewhere else, in a low voice. He said some other things, I can’t remember everything he said, but he said something vulgar.”
Asked what he said, Reade responded that Biden had said, “I want to fuck you.”
There was an awkward exchange about Reade’s underwear
The interview got somewhat confusing when Kelly pressed Reade on what she was wearing under her clothes when the alleged assault happened:
Megyn Kelly: And were you wearing underwear?
Tara Reade: I was wearing lingerie, underwear.
Kelly: And he pushed it to the side?
Reade: He, there was no block. Yeah, there was no reason. Yeah, he was able to do what he wanted to do.
Kelly: And I don’t mean to get too graphic.
Reade: That’s okay.
Kelly: But are you saying that they were crotchless when you say that it was lingerie? Like, can I just be clear on? Did he push the underwear to the side? Or was that not an issue?
Reade: That was not an issue.
Reade: Because they were just lingerie panties and I was going to meet my boyfriend later. So yeah.
Kelly: So maybe there wasn’t much to them.
Later in the interview, Reade said she initially didn’t want to tell her mother about the assault because she did not want her to know about her underwear. “It took her a while to get it out of me because I kept, I was embarrassed about the underwear I was wearing,” Reade told Kelly.
Reade explained her previous praise for Biden, and why she voted for him and Obama
Another area of questioning revolved around Reade having voted for Biden and praised him on social media for his work on sexual assault prior to coming forward with her own allegations of sexual harassment and assault against him. Regarding Reade’s votes in two presidential elections, she said she was only focused on the top of the ticket. “I wasn’t voting for him,” she responded. “I was voting for Obama. I mean, I was really hopeful and happy that Obama became president and Joe Biden happened to be on the ticket.”
Then Kelly asked Reade about how “as recently as 2017, you were praising Joe Biden publicly:”
I think that has a lot of people scratching their heads, right? On multiple occasions, you retweeted or liked online praise for Joe Biden and his work combatting sexual assault. There was a compliment you tweeted about him saying, “My old boss speaks truth. Listen.”
Reade seemed to claim the praise was strategic, not personal, since it was related to her work. “During that time — I’m an expert witness on domestic violence issues, as you know, so that was, like an account, you know, part of that awareness of domestic violence and other violent acts,” Reade responded, adding that, “I’ve always been conflicted about Joe Biden, I didn’t want to talk badly about him. And I wasn’t ready to tell my history with Joe Biden at that point at all.”
Reade offered an explanation for her tweet which appeared to tease her assault allegation
Kelly also asked Reade about a tweet she posted earlier this year which has drawn some attention:
Megyn Kelly: The Intercept’s Ryan Grim, tweeted out, quote, ‘a head to head Biden v Sanders contest will force voters to take a close look at Biden again. That went very badly for him last time.’ And you responded at 10:33pm on March 3, 2020. ‘Yep. Timing. Wait for it. Tick Tock.’ It sounds political. And it sounds like you were excited to drop this bomb.
Tara Reade: That was in response to me getting finally, I thought, an attorney from Time’s Up to finally bring something forward and bring my story forward in a safe way. So that’s why I wrote it.
Kelly: Tick Tock was a…
Reade: Time’s up.
Kelly: Time’s up.
Kelly: Were you excited? Because it sounds anticipatory, you’re building the anticipation and the suspense. People have used that as a reason to say she’s not credible.
Reade: I think that they’ll use anything to say that I’m not credible. So I won’t address it in that way. What I will say is that I was very, very vocal on Twitter about trying to get the story forward.
Reade called on Biden to drop out
Kelly asked Reade about a Biden statement from 2018 in which he said that accusers should start off with the presumption that they are telling the truth. “Do you think he’s afforded you that presumption?” Kelly asked. “No,” Reade replied, saying she’s received online harassment, including a death threat, following her decision to come forward. “His campaign is taking this position that they want all women to be able to speak safely. I have not experienced that.”
Kelly then asked, “If he’s watching this, what do you want to say to him?”
Reade: “I want to say: you and I were there, Joe Biden. Please step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.”
Kelly: You want him to withdraw.
Reade: I wish he would, but he won’t. But I wish he would. That’s how I feel emotionally.
Kelly: Do you want an apology?
Reade: I think it’s a little late.
Reade said she would “absolutely” go under oath
When Kelly asked Reade if she thinks “we should believe all women,” she answered that she believes “in the survivors who have come forward,” including Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Kelly then compared the response to Blasey Ford’s accusation and Reade’s claim:
Kelly: Some of those who supported her but now have found a reason not to support you say, “Well, she was under oath.” Would you go under oath?
Kelly: They say, “Well, she subjected herself to cross-examination.” Would you do that?
Kelly: They also point out that she took a polygraph controlled by someone on her team. Is that something you want to do?
Reade: I’m not a criminal. Joe Biden should take the polygraph. What kind of precedent does that set for survivors of violence? Does that mean we’re presumed guilty and we all have to polygraphs? So I will take one if Joe Biden takes one, but I am not a criminal.
How Kelly landed the interview
There was some surprise that Kelly scored the first on-air interview with Reade, though she is not currently employed at a network. She told the Daily Beast that Reade came to her.
“I had no plans on going and doing an interview, but we got to talking and she said she’d been trying to reach me, trying to find ways to get in touch with me, and asked me if I would interview her,” Kelly said. The next day Kelly and producer Rich McHugh flew out to Northern California, questioning Reade on-camera in a hotel suite for more than an hour.
Reade’s new attorney represented Weinstein victims
Kelly said that earlier this week Reade “had no advisers, she had no lawyer, she had no PR person, she had nothing.” That changed on Thursday, when it was announced that lawyer Douglas Wigdor — whose firm represented six victims of Harvey Weinstein — had taken her on as a client.
This piece has been updated throughout.